The Maple Leafs made their first pick of the 2021 NHL Draft on day two, selecting winger Matthew Knies out of the USHL with the 57th overall pick. Knies was quite productive at the USHL level in 2020-21, registering 17 goals and 25 assists in 44 games with Tri-City. He is committed to the University of Minnesota for the 2021-22 season.
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) July 24, 2021
The big-bodied forward plays a refined game, hunting pucks on the forecheck and displaying strong puck protection skills along the boards. Knies is a fine skater for his size and he plays a high-energy game, generating second chance opportunities through tireless effort but lacks the high-end puck skills to execute in tight spaces. Knies excels in the chip and chase game, combining well-placed dump-ins with a relentless motor to wreak havoc on opposing defenders. He will chip in with a bit of offense at the next level but the strength of his game will be his ability to disrupt play and retrieve pucks while creating space for his linemates.
The Leafs are set to watch Zach Hyman walk out the door in free agency, and though he is still a few years away, they may have found his eventual replacement in the second round of the NHL Draft.
(Statistics from EliteProspects.com)